My dad passed away six years ago today.
Part of me can't believe that it has been 6 years already and another part of me feels like I haven't seen him in decades.
I think back to the day he passed, a Monday just like today. His entire family circled around his bed the whole day and into the night. Praying, sharing stories, telling him how much we love him. After such a long battle with Alzheimer's this was a celebration of his life. We stayed late into the night until I realized that perhaps dad was waiting for us to leave. Sure enough, a few minutes after I got home hospice called to let me know that dad had passed. Even to his death he was protecting us from possible hurt and further sorrow.
Yesterday we were at our church picnic and my mom and I realized that it was the same date, same day (Sunday), same setting (church picnic), same weather as six years ago when we left the church picnic early with our parish priest and headed over to the nursing home to watch my father receive his last rites. A beautiful ceremony. A final symbol of dad's lifelong commitment to God.
I looked back at my blog and read this:
As one life prepares to enter this world another prepares to exit.
This past week my dad has gone down hill very quickly. Hospice has been called into the nursing home to help care for him. He can not eat anymore, and has trouble drinking water. He is not responding, talking, or opening his eyes. He has started running a temperature and has trouble breathing too.
Our parish priest came to the nursing home last night and gave dad the Anointing of the Sick (used to be called The Last Rites). When Father told dad that he was there to give him a blessing dad actually moved his head in the direction of Father and nodded his head. Clearly dad is still in there. And it is also clear that his faith and his God continue to be at the forefront of his life.
Dying will be a happy release for dad. He will no longer be stuck in a body that doesn't work. No longer imprisoned by his mind. It will be joyful for him. The daughter he has waited 40 long years to see again will surely greet him, and I am so happy for him. For both of them. But I'm sad for me. It is so final.
Still, life continues to go on. The boys play in the pudgie pool in the backyard. Picnics are attended. Fourth of July parties are planned. Cabinets and colors are picked out for the new house. And this little lady still kicks in my belly. And though it makes me sad to think she will never meet her adoring grandpa, and he will never get to hold my daughter, I comfort myself thinking that perhaps they will meet. Maybe even before I get to meet her. Maybe they will meet when she is on her way in and he is on his way out. And she will actually get to see the angel who will so carefully and diligently watch over her throughout her life.
It is comforting to read. I still believe all I wrote. I am still happy for him. Still sad for me. And for my mom. And for my kids.
But I know he is still with us. Watching. Guiding. Protecting. Loving.
And someday we'll see each other again.
For now, I'm remembering.